Culture and history info
According to history, Praslin Island was visited by Arab merchant and pirates long before the Europeans discovery of the island. Although they did not settle there, the Arabs were trading coco de mer nuts found only in the Seychelles. Is not surprising that Lazare Picault named the island Isle de Palmes in 1744. This granitic island was a true garden of Eden with palm covering every surface and turtles, birds, giant tortoises roaming freely around the island.
On September 21, 1768 a boat named La Curieuse anchored on the east side of this small island. On the beach of Anse Possession, they set up a stone of possession( can be viewed today in the National History Museum ) and erected a small guard-house further away. Then they named the island Praslin in honor of César Gabriel de Choiseul, duc de Praslin (1712-1785), a French diplomat and statesman, who was at that time Secretary of State for the Navy.
It was at the end of the 18th century that the inhabitants began to settle on Praslin and their names are enshrined on the island. They are eponyms of Praslin. By 1811, when the British had taken possession of the Seychelles there were 10 families residing on Praslin cultivating cassava, rice and manufacturing coconut oil. An icon of Baie Ste Anne is definitely the ‘kalorifer house’ of Anse Takamaka. An early 29th century copra kiln that has been transformed into a quaint little guesthouse.
A century ago, Praslin was also cultivating cinnamon for the pharmaceutical and the confectioneries in Europe. Most of these buildings now lay in ruins. Once they had their noble purpose, they were of service to a few generations of Praslinois inhabitants who now rest in the old cemeteries on the island.
The coco de mer palm of the Seychelles is surely the star of the island. This oddly shaped nut is endemic to Praslin and Curieuse Island. On Praslin the palm trees that produce this nut and so are five other endemic plants are found mainly at Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve. This nature park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the home of various birds including the rare Seychelles black parrot, mammals, crustaceans, snails, and reptiles. This forest, with its primitive plant and animal species, is a relict from the time when the supercontinent of Gondwana was divided into smaller parts, leaving the Seychelles islands between the Madagascar and India. The British General Charles Goerge Gordon propagated a myth in the 19th century after he visited the island in 1881. He visioned Vallée de Mai as the real Garden of Eden. He had said that he had corroborative proof to support this. His theory was that the palm tree was the tree of knowledge representing both good and evil, he even went to the extent of marking the exact location of the Garden of Eden on the island as the ‘'Coco-de-mer” valley. But many may recall with dread the day Praslin almost lost its precious Vallée de Mai – those 45 acres of primeval forests. A raging fire that started at Côte d’Or on Sunday July 23, 1961 would have certainly destroyed the entire area if not for the courage and strength of some 150 men forming many fire fighting patrols. By the time the fire was extinguished on Tuesday July 25, 1961 it had consumed 75 acres of forests.
Being the second largest island with a population of of 7,533, Praslin host some of the most beautiful beaches. With famous names like Anse Lazio and Anse Geogette frequently making top ten lists of best and most beautiful beaches in the world.